Archives for the month of: September, 2016

When we left off, I was in creative retreat so I could work in an unhurried, peaceful environment.


Wawayanda Lake, NJ

I had no particular plans, just a lot of materials.


Back, or “patch” pockets

After making perhaps 10 denim quilts over two years, I’ve amassed collections of parts.  I’m inspired by that which seems unusable, like buttons and zippers.  Buttons are a lot like coins: they’re weighty, pleasingly embellished, and in accumulation create a treasure chest effect.  Eventually having them around resulted in this


I’ve also been accumulating inside front pockets


and discovered that these not-quite half moon, not quite quarter-circle sections of denim on plain cotton make a nice composition on their own …


as a four point star.


With this inspiration, I found myself joining together as many as I could.  It was not especially easy or fun.  I wanted the watch pockets and rivets in there for texture and variation, but this upped the difficulty ante, so that needle heartbreak waited over every pass.  Modest Machine gamely grinded over the varying levels of fabric density like a mower over a dry rocky lawn.  Eventually a payoff came in visual impact as they multiplied.


Since the jeans and pockets were different sizes, the resulting star squares went from small to large.  Dipping into my denim stash, I gave each a wide border, adding tonal variation with different fades.


Staggered, the borders gave a sense of movement to the stars, but I chose to collapse them into an overall square.


I wanted to use as much of the original source material as possible. Lots of lining remained because of the emphasis on denim thus far.  Usually the back of a quilt is a simple muslim or sheet … why not piece all the pocket scraps together?  It would be smooth sailing for my little machine; the fabric was all the same weight.


So began another painstaking demonstration of the scrappiness of quilting


Why discard a piece with printing or graphics for added interest …


Compositionally this part was more fun than the stars on the front


And when it reached the size of the front piece


I wasn’t sure which I liked better … each can stand (or lie) on its own



Completed July 27

If I had to classify it I’d call it a throw. When not thrown it folds up rather tidily. There is one more quilt I finished while on my peaceful retreat.  I’ll write about that next but will leave you with a summer sunset for now.


July 26






A highlight of my summer was about 17 days (but who’s counting) at my lakeside weekend home in New Jersey.


Evening, July 10

My husband joined me on the weekends, but the rest of the time was my own, and I used it as a creative retreat.  I had two cats with me, family nearby, some wonderful neighbors, and nothing but the cycling days and nights to fill as I wished.  It was bliss.

The weekend prior I brought up a bunch of materials


I have been cutting up jeans, khaki’s, cargo shorts and more for 10 years.  In this time, my house has been blighted with clothes moths.  Enter Container Store.

As fabric is my medium, this is my method


Modest Machine

Two items in my materials seemed to float to the top. My younger son (known as Chuck) recently castoff a pair of cargo shorts. My painterly friend Chuck gave me a canvas remnant scored with an island of red paint. These became my starting points.



Using a seam ripper, I completely took apart the shorts, section by section.


Belt loops

Preparing the fabric is observational and contemplative.  Handling it I note its surface feel, weight, mobility. With each change in geometry and line I imagine new arrangements, and fabrics to enhance the bright red island. It takes most of the first day to take the shorts apart.


Waistband, cargo pockets, zipper fly, hems, and belt loops all give way to my seam ripper, lint roll, and iron.


These were well worn shorts. I’m not sure why they stopped returning value to my Chuck, but for me this new form is tremendously pleasing. I love its furry softness and the rippling gradations in the fade.


The rabbit munching in the grass every day probably put me in mind of a red clover print in my stash, luckily in one of the containers I brought along. These were from a pair of jeans (pocket lining) I wore in the long long ago, before children. Turns out this is why I saved them.


At some point in my process there’s a shift from taking apart to putting together. In this case it was when I noticed the pocket flaps had clipped corners. Modest Machine roared to life to attach pocket lining to create 90 degree angles. I’m enjoying now how they look like old fashioned photo mounts.


I still felt one more element was needed for the composition.  Some painted denim from my inspiring friend Chuck seemed to fit, with its grey and blue hues


Then in a pretty continuous flow Modest Machine and I joined the elements together


Surrounding the center island atoll


Buddy checked frequently for surface feel.


Until it was done (about 22 hours, but who’s counting), and as close to square as I’ve ever come with a quilt.The border includes a jeans leg where Chuck painted a blue rectangle.


That’s Chuck Squared. Backing is an old sheet. The fill, as always, 100% cotton batting, as this is a small quilt/blanket/throw.   Coming very soon a post on the project that came on the heels of this one. Let me know what you think in the comments, and here’s your bonus shot for reading to the end!


The deck at night, July 11





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